Recollections of Forty Years in the House, Senate and Cabinet – John Sherman

ANCESTRY OF THE SHERMAN FAMILY. Family Name is of Saxon Origin —”Conquer Death by Virtue”—Arrival of Rev. John Sherman at Boston in 1634—General Sherman’s Reply to an English Sexton—Career of Daniel Sherman—My First Visit to Woodbury—”Sherman’s Tannery”—Anecdote of “Uncle Dan”—Sketch of My Father and Mother—Address to Enlisting Soldiers—General Reese’s Account of My Father’s Career— Religion of the Sherman Family—My Belief. The family name of Sherman is, no doubt, of Saxon origin. It is very common along the Rhine, and in different parts of the German Empire. It is there written Shearmann or Schurmann. I found it in Frankfort and Berlin. The English Shermans lived chiefly in Essex and Suffolk counties near the east coast, and in London. The name appears frequently in local records. One Sherman was executed for taking the unsuccessful side in a civil war. It was not until the beginning of the 16th century that any of the name assumed the arms, crest, and motto justified by their pride, property or standing. The motto taken, “Conquer Death by Virtue,” is a rather meaningless phrase. It is modest enough, and indicates a religious turn of mind. Nearly every family of the name furnished a preacher. A few members of it attained the dignity of knighthood.

A greater number became landed property-holders, and more were engaged in trade in London. Sir Henry Sherman was one of the executors of the will of Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby, May 23, 1521. William Sherman, Esq., purchased Knightston in the time of Henry VIII; and a monument to him is in Ottery St. Mary, dated 1542. As a rule the family belonged to the middle class and were engaged in active occupations, earning their own bread, with a strong sense of their rights and liberties as Englishmen. The principal family of the name in the 16th century were the Shermans of Yaxley in the county of Suffolk, a full detail of which is given in Davy’s Collections of that county. Edmond Sherman, my ancestor, was a member of this family. He was born in 1585 and was married to Judith Angier, May 26, 1611. He resided at Dedham, Essex county, England, then a place of some importance.

He was a manufacturer of cloth, a man of means and high standing. He was a Puritan, with all the faults and virtues of a sectary. He resisted ship-money and the tax unlawfully imposed on tonnage and poundage. He had the misfortune to live at the time when Charles I undertook to dispense with Parliament, and to impose unlawful taxes and burdens upon the people of England, and when the privileges of the nobility were enforced with great severity by judges dependent upon the crown. He had three sons, John, baptized on the 4th of January, 1614; Edmond, baptized June 18, 1616, and Samuel, baptized July 12, 1618. He had a nephew, known as “Captain John,” somewhat older than his sons, who was an active man in 1634. At this time the migration to Boston, caused chiefly by the tyranny of Charles I, was in active operation. Hume, in his history, says: “The Puritans, restrained in England, shipped themselves off for America, and laid there the foundations of a government which possessed all the liberty, both civil and religious, of which they found themselves bereaved in their native country. But their enemies, unwilling that they should anywhere enjoy ease and contentment, and dreading, perhaps, the dangerous consequences of so disaffected a colony, prevailed on the king to issue a proclamation, debarring those devotees access, even into those inhospitable deserts. Eight ships, lying in the Thames, and ready to sail, were detained by order of the council; and in there were embarked Sir Arthur Hazelrig, John Hampden, John Pym, and Oliver Cromwell, who had resolved, forever, to abandon their native country, and fly to the other extremity of the globe; where they might enjoy lectures and discourses, of any length or form, which pleased them.

The king had afterward full leisure to repent this exercise of authority.” It appears that, influenced the same motives, Edmond Sherman determined to remove his family, with his nephew, “Captain John,” to Boston. In one statement made in respect to them it is said that the father and his three sons and nephew embarked for Boston, but this is doubtful. It is certain, however, that his son, Rev. John Sherman and his son Samuel, and his nephew “Captain John,” did go to Boston in 1634. It is quite as certain that if they were accompanied by their father and their brother Edmond, that the two latter returned again to Dedham in 1636. Edmond Sherman, senior, lived and died at Dedham. One of his descendants, Rev. Henry Beers Sherman, a few years ago visited Dedham and there found one of the church windows of stained glass bearing the initials of Edmond Sherman as having been his gift, and the record shows that one of the buttresses of the church was erected at his expense. Mr.

Henry Beers Sherman there saw the pupils of a free school, endowed by Edmond Sherman and still in operation, attending the church in procession. When in London, in the summer of 1889, I concluded to make a visit to “the graves of my ancestors.” I examined Black’s Universal Atlas to locate Dedham, but it was not to be found. I made inquiries, but could discover no one who knew anything about Dedham, and concluded there was no such place, although I had often read of it. I was compelled, therefore, to give up my visit. Senator Hoar, a descendant, through his mother, of Roger Sherman of Revolutionary fame, was more fortunate or more persistent than I, for he subsequently found Dedham and verified the accounts we had of our common ancestor, and procured photographs, copies of which I have, of the monument of Edmond Sherman, of the church near which he was buried, and of the handsome school building, still called “the Sherman Library,” that he had left by his will for the youth of Dedham, with a sufficient annuity to support it. Dedham is but two or three miles from Manningtree, a more modern town on the line of railroad, which has substantially obscured the ancient and decayed village of Dedham. The sexton of this church wrote General Sherman soon after he had become distinguished as a military leader, calling his attention to the neglected monument of his ancestor, Edmond Sherman, in the churchyard, and asking a contribution for its repair. The general sent a reply to the effect that, as his ancestor in England had reposed in peace under a monument for more than two centuries, while some of his more recent ancestors lay in unmarked graves, he thought it better to contribute to monuments for them here and leave to his English cousins the care of the monuments of their common ancestors in England. This letter is highly prized by the sexton and has been shown to visitors, among others to Senator Hoar, as a characteristic memento of General Sherman.

Captain John Sherman, “Captain John,” soon after his arrival in Boston, settled in Watertown, Mass., where he married and had a large family of children. Among his descendants was Roger Sherman of the Revolution, by far the most distinguished man of the name. He had the good fortune to contribute to and sign the three most important papers of American history, the “Address to the King,” the “Declaration of Independence” and the “Constitution of the United States.” Among other descendants of Captain John Sherman were Hon. Roger Minot Sherman, of New Haven, a nephew of Roger Sherman, a distinguished lawyer and a leading participant in the Hartford Convention. William M. Evarts, George F. Hoar and Chauncey M. Depew are descendants of Roger Sherman or of his brother.

Rev. John Sherman, the eldest son of Edmond Sherman, was born on the 26th of December, 1613, at Dedham, England. He graduated at Immanuel College, Cambridge, left college a Puritan and came over to America in 1634, as above stated. He preached his first sermon at Watertown, Massachusetts, under a tree, soon after his arrival in this country. In a few weeks he went to New Haven, Connecticut, and preached in several places, but finally settled at Watertown, where he had a large family of children. His numerous descendants are well distributed throughout the United States, but most of them in the State of New York. Samuel Sherman, the youngest son of Edmond Sherman, is the ancestor of the family to which I belong. At the age of sixteen years he came with his brother, Rev. John and his cousin “Captain John,” in April, 1634, in the ship “Elizabeth” from Ipswich, and arrived in Boston in June, and for a time settled in Watertown, Massachusetts. He afterward moved to Weathersfield, Connecticut, thence to Stamford and thence to Stratford.

In Cothron’s “History of Ancient Woodbury” there are found full details of the life of Samuel Sherman and his numerous descendants to the present generation. Of Samuel Sherman Mr. Cothron says: “He was from Dedham, Essex county, England, came to this country in 1634, and previous to the date of the new plantation, at Woodbury, had been a leading man in the colony of Connecticut. He had assisted in the settlement of several other towns in the colony, and now undertook the same for Woodbury. He had been a member of the Court of Assistants, or Upper House of the General Court, and Supreme Judicial Tribunal, for five or six years from 1663, and held various offices and appointments of honor and trust. He is referred to in ancient deeds and documents as the ‘Worshipful Mr. Sherman.’ In 1676 he was one of the commission for Stratford and Woodbury.” The order of succession of the descendants of Samuel Sherman, the ancestor of the family to which I belong, is as follows: 1. John Sherman, the fifth child of Samuel Sherman, was born at Stratford, Conn.

, February 8, 1650. He early moved to Woodbury. He died December 13, 1730. 2. John Sherman 2nd, the fifth child of John, was baptized June, 1687. He married Hachaliah Preston, July 22, 1714. He died 1727. 3. Daniel Sherman, the third child of John 2nd, was born August 14, 1721, and died July 2, 1799. 4.

Taylor Sherman, the sixth child of Daniel, was born in 1758. He married Elizabeth Stoddard in 1787, and died in Connecticut May 15, 1815. His widow died at Mansfield, Ohio, August 1, 1848. 5. Charles Robert Sherman, the eldest child of Taylor, was born September 26, 1788, married Mary Hoyt, of Norwalk, Conn., May 8, 1810. He died on the 24th of June, 1829. His widow died at Mansfield, Ohio, September 23, 1852. The had eleven children, six sons and five daughters, all of whom lived to maturity. I am the eighth child of this family.


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